Medicare and Prescription Drug Affordability for Seniors — AARP Invests $4.5 Million in Campaign to Influence New Legislation

two senior couples sitting together on a long table outdoors in garden enjoying afternoon coffee and sweet snacks, both sitting on one end to keep social distance in times of loosend coronavirus curfew.
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The AARP wants Congress to do something about high prescription drug prices for older Americans, and it’s putting up millions of dollars to spread the word.

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On April 11, the senior advocacy group announced that it is kicking off a new phase of its “Fair Drug Prices Now” campaign — and will be pushing lawmakers to advance legislation (already under consideration) that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers.

AARP will invest $4.5 million over the next month to move its agenda forward. The effort includes a national advertising campaign as well as a major push by grassroots advocates to call and email their members of Congress. Television and digital ads will run from April 11 through May 9 urging Congress to let Medicare negotiate drug prices.

“Congress has promised for years that they would address the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs,” Nancy LeaMond, the AARP’s executive VP and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said in a press release. “Our members will be out in force over the coming weeks to tell their senators that this is the time for action. Seniors are sick and tired of paying the highest prices in the world for their medications, and they are demanding change.”

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As part of the campaign, AARP state offices will deliver petitions — signed by more than 4 million Americans — to senators, urging them to enact legislation that would lower prescription drug prices. Petitions have already been virtually delivered to senators in more than a dozen states, including Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with more deliveries planned in the coming weeks.

The House has already passed legislation addressing Medicare drug prices, but the Senate may be a tougher sell.

AARP has long advocated for lower drug prices — a major expense for seniors that has gotten even more expensive in the current high-inflation environment. Letting Medicare negotiate drug prices could go a long way toward lowering those costs, but it’s not the only policy AARP supports.

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The organization also wants Congress to pass legislation that would put a cap on out-of-pocket costs that older adults pay for their prescription drugs, and to impose penalties on drug companies that raise prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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